Erdogan and Syria: Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t

Sami Hamdi #TheOtherNarrative

Recently, there have been growing criticisms of Erdogan’s policy over Syria, with many accusing him of simply not doing enough. Yet, upon reflection of Turkey’s options in Syria, it begs the question as to what exactly Erdogan should do.
Here is how many Turks imagine the considerations taking place in Ankara. Should Turkey:
1) Provide air strikes, clearing the way for YPG to seize territory on the ground so it can later threaten Turkey itself?
2) Send in the army into a battlefield that contains Iranian-backed militias, Hezbollah, Assad’s army, Russia, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, YPG, and PKK?
3) Swallow his pride and go to Washington and leverage US pressure against Assad whilst accepting US continued support for pro-independence Kurdish movement?
4) Go negotiate with Assad and be criticised by anti-Assad movement again for not taking a firmer stance?
5) Back an opposition military force that cannot even assert itself against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other more extreme elements?
6) Back a political Syrian Opposition that cannot even agree between themselves?
7) Go to Moscow and negotiate with Russia for a peace settlement where Assad stays, but it brings an end to the war?
For many Turks, Erdogan has played a shrewd game, carefully navigating the pitfalls set for him by:
1) the US which tried to use the Turkish army as a proxy force to do its dirty work in Syria;
2) the Russians who backed the Kurds militarily and opened an office in Moscow for the HDP to force Erdogan to reel back support for Syria opposition by fanning the flames of domestic instability;
3) Assad who successfully destroyed the Turkish-Iran partnership knowing the Gulf Arabs and Egypt would never enter a genuine alliance with Ankara;
4) the Kurds, who sought to lure Turkish army into Syria to create a ‘legitimate’ battlefield to fight the Turks.
What do you think? Comment below and share your opinion.

Sami Hamdi is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest. An experienced geopolitical risk consultant, Sami assists blue-chip clients around the world in monitoring and advising on highly volatile business environments.

Sami has extensive experience in the MENA region having been a television reporter and talk-show host for over 10 years. He has reported on key events in the region including the Arab Spring, the fall of Morsi in Egypt, the Houthi crisis in Yemen, as well as the battle of influences between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In his freetime, Sami is a passionate and stubborn Arsenal fan, and loves travelling. Perhaps a bit too much…